After bloody weekend, city’s top cop asks for patience
The weekend saw 64 shootings, 13 of them fatal. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said “we are making progress every weekend in different parts of the city” in combatting gang violence.
After a particularly bloody weekend that saw 64 people shot, 13 fatally, the city’s police superintendent Monday asked for patience from the public as he prepares to implement his crime-fighting strategies.
“At some point, I’ll welcome the criticism, but not before it starts. It’s not even created yet,” Supt. David Brown said, talking to reporters at police headquarters.
Last week, Chicago police announced it will create a citywide violent crime unit after three consecutive weekends with at least 65 people shot and multiple children killed.
The specialized unit is meant “to tackle violent crime and create community partnerships in some of our most challenging areas,” the department said.
“The ultimate goal of the Chicago Police Department’s organizational restructuring that began earlier this year has always been to bolster police resources under the authority of district commanders, while also being able to address spikes in violent crime citywide,” the department said at the time.
On Monday, Brown criticized a reporter for “conflating” the weekend’s events with the planned program.
“Don’t be so jaded. Have some optimism. It’s Monday,” he said. “We can’t quit. We can’t give up.”
“Stand by, you’ll see community policing on steroids in this department.”
As he has said repeatedly in the past, Brown called the issue of gun violence a complex problem that can’t be addressed by police alone.
“I’ll be here every Monday answering questions about the weekend, but if I’m the only one answering questions ..., then nothing will change,” he said.
Brown said young people in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods need to have legitimate options to “participate in the American dream, see a future.”
“They need a real opportunity to learn a trade, to be part of the capitalist market and not driven to only see the drug market as the only legitimate way to make money,” he said.
Later Monday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot was asked when Chicagoans can expect to see some progress in the never-ending war against gang violence.
“If you dig into the numbers, what you’re gonna see is we are making progress every weekend in different parts of the city,” the mayor said.
“But, the reality is, [when] you look at the root causes of violence, this is generations of lack of investment. Generations where we haven’t created real opportunities, particularly for young men of color. And they believe that their destiny is on the corner. We’re not gonna change that around in a few weeks.”
Lightfoot said the efforts she is making — both in short-term street interventions and longer term in neighborhood investments — already is paying off.
“Is anybody satisfied with where we are? Of course not. So, we’ve got to re-double our efforts,” the mayor said “It has to be an all-hands-on-deck, community-focused and community-driven effort.”
Contributing: Fran Spielman